NEW DELHI :
GoAir on Thursday blamed delayed delivery of Airbus SE’s A320neo planes as one of the reasons behind the cancellations of dozens of flights this week.
This, however, contrasts with Airbus data, which showed that deliveries of the A320neo to GoAir continued until as recently as November at a higher monthly pace since June 2016, when the airline inducted its first A320neo aircraft.
GoAir took delivery of one A320neo aircraft in October, and two more in November, taking its A320neo fleet to 40 aircraft in the last 42 months, according to Airbus data.
The Mumbai-based carrier said delays in deliveries of the newest Airbus aircraft in November and December were “adding to its operational challenges".
A GoAir spokesperson said operations are expected to return to normal by the weekend. An Airbus India spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.
GoAir had ordered 144 Airbus A320neo planes since 2011 and deliveries commenced in June 2016. Till November-end 2019, the airline had taken delivery of 40 A320neo planes. The delivery schedule for the A320neo for December is expected to be updated on Airbus’ website next month.
During January-March 2019, GoAir didn’t take any new delivery of A320neo plane. However, in April-June, it took delivery of four A320neo planes, while adding three more planes between July-September 2019.
GoAir conceded that “flight duty time limits," which relates to mandatory rest period for crew, had also affected its operations. Earlier, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had rapped the airline for overworking its crew.
GoAir was forced to cancel around two dozen domestic flights on Monday as the aviation regulator stepped up pressure on the airline to address safety risks arising from overworking its crew, Mint reported on Tuesday. The airline cancelled at least 19 flights on Tuesday.
GoAir is about 30 pilots short of its optimum crew size, said another person familiar with the matter.
GoAir has, however, maintained that it has adequate crew to operate 325 daily flights. The carrier cited inclement weather, protests in Delhi and lack of aircraft among reasons for flight cancellation.
“During the same time, non-availability of Pratt & Whitney (P&W) spare engines have also hampered the smooth functioning of the airline," the airline added.
GoAir was overstretching its staff, which can potentially cause accidents, said the person mentioned above on Monday adding that this prompted the DGCA to warn the airline to address safety risks arising from overworking its crew.
“The airline clearly has a pilot shortage issue, which has led to cancellation of dozens of flights. However, other reasons like weather, delivery delays and protests have also contributed to their flight cancellations," said Mark Martin, chief executive and founder of aviation consultancy Martin Consulting.